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Steelers Defensive Lineman Returns to Practice



Steelers DL DeMarvin Leal
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end DeMarvin Leal at training camp on July 28, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end DeMarvin Leal has cleared the NFL concussion protocol and should be available for the team’s Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Rams, Steelers Now confirmed. Brooke Pryor of ESPN first reported the news.

Leal suffered a concussion late in the Steelers’ Week 4 loss to the Houston Texans. He did not practice in the week leading up to the team’s Week 5 game against the Baltimore Ravens and was held out of that contest.

Leal had been in the starting lineup at defensive end following an earlier injury to captain Cam Heyward. With Leal out of the lineup, nose tackle Keeanu Benton moved out to end in the base defense against the Ravens.

A third-round pick out of Texas A&M in 2022, Leal has settled in a versatile piece of the Steelers’ defensive line, playing end in the base defense and tackle and outside linebacker in sub packages. Through four games, he has 10 tackles, two quarterback hits, one sack and one pass defended.

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The Steelers appeared to improve their defensive line depth significantly ahead of the 2023 season, with Leal playing more on the line and less on the edge than he did in 2022, when T.J. Watt missed significant time. Benton, Armon Watts and Breiden Fehoko were also added to the mix.

So far, those changes have not come with increased results. The Steelers are 29th in team rushing defense, having allowed an average of 143.8 yards per game. The team is sixth in sacks per game, but only three linemen have a quarterback sack: Benton, Leal and Larry Ogunjobi.